5.9 – Checklist – Drive according to the Load and driving conditions

Step 9: Allow for changes in vehicle stability, steering and braking when driving a
loaded vehicle.

Safety while driving

In addition to correctly restraining the load on road safety also requires drivers to recognise that the characteristics of the vehicle have charged due to the load and that the routes that the vehicle can safely drive on may also change as a result of the addition of the load.

It is important that drivers understand the effect that the mass, size, and positioning of the load can have on the vehicle’s stability, steering and braking.

In particular:

  • a higher centre of gravity will reduce stability and increase the risk of rollover.
  • An unevenly distributed load across the width of the trailer will reduce the vehicle’s stability when cornering.

Unbalanced load

Vehicles carrying “live” loads (loads that can move) are more likely to overturn on corners. This includes bulk liquids, livestock, hanging meat, wet concrete, motor vehicles and large rubber-tyred equipment.

  • If a load isn’t evenly distributed along the length of the trailer, and there is more weight on some wheels than others, then each wheel will not brake with the same force. This can cause the wheels to lock up.

Offset centre of gravity
  • Braking forces can be greater at low speed because of the “grabbing” effect.
  • External factors such as high wind speeds can also reduce vehicle stability or blow the load off.

It is therefore important that drivers:

  • Are aware of the height and width of the loaded vehicle.
  • Understand the constraints of the route they are traveling on and any specific access limitations on the vehicle.
    • E.g. Make allowances for high and wide loads when driving around corners, under bridges and
    • electric cables and near power poles, traffic lights and other obstructions
  • Drive at an appropriate speed for the driving conditions.
  • Exercise appropriate caution on corners
  • Are suitably trained (eg attend rollover prevention program)
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